In our workshops, we talk all the time about making things simple. The simple answer wins the day most of the time. In a world that is increasingly fast-paced, time-starved, and overloaded with information, the person who can make complicated things simple and easy to understand rules the world.
But when I talk about this theme in our workshops, inevitably one of the participants pushes back and talks about the danger of making things “too simple.” “The things I talk about with my colleagues/boss/customers/suppliers are really complicated, and if I make them too simple, I lose credibility.” I hear that one a lot. People are worried about losing their “street cred” through simple answers.
I hear the point… but I am going to politely push back on the pushback. When my colleagues and I talk about making things simpler, we are not saying make them simplistic. There is a difference. If you make something “simple” you make it easy to understand. If you make something “simplistic” you over-simplify, often in a way that misleads. There is a difference, indeed.
Making something simple means you make it easier to hear, understand, absorb and act upon. In other words, you identify the issues in clear ways, you use easy-to-hear vocabulary, you get to the point quickly, you lay out key steps. You make yourself easy to listen to. That is what we mean when we counsel you to make things “simple.” To make something “simplistic” means something else entirely… that you have missed the nuance, left out key elements, ignored possible outcomes. That would be bad.
The simple message (see what I did there?) today is this. We live in a world where people are overwhelmed with information, their time is in critically short supply, and we are all drowning. So, be the easy part of someone’s day or week. Be the person who makes things easy to understand, whose message relies on simple vocabulary, uses relevant examples, does not waste time… Be the best part of someone’s day.
In other words, make your message simple. Make yourself easy to listen to.
Have a great day!